The VPR Poll was released on Wednesday morning Oct. 19, and gives Vermont a snapshot of what likely voters are thinking about statewide and federal election races, plus what issues are priorities for Vermonters.
The poll was conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute for VPR between September 29 - October 14, 2016, and has a 3.9 percent margin-of-error.
Listen to Vermont Edition for a discussion of the full VPR Poll results live on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Guests are:
- VPR reporter Pete Hirschfeld
- Pollster Rich Clark of the Castleton Polling Institute
Castleton Polling Institute conducted the poll for VPR. Learn about the poll methodology here.
These are some of the topline results:
Phil Scott takes 39 percent, and Sue Minter gets 38 percent in a dead heat for Vermont's top office, well within the survey’s margin of error. The task ahead for both is to woo the 14 percent of voters who are still undecided, according to the poll. The third candidate in the race, Bill “Spaceman” Lee of the Liberty Union Party, pulls 2 percent of the vote in VPR’s survey of likely voters.
But the VPR Poll also suggests that Scott may have a slight advantage in the race: he's drawing more support among independent voters than Minter, and more Democrats are supporting Scott than Republicans are supporting Minter.
In other state and federal races, likely voters are indicating clear preferences:
- U.S. Senate: Patrick Leahy (D) 59 percent and Scott Milne (R) 22 percent
- Lieutenant governor: Randy Brock (R) 26 percent and David Zuckerman (P/D) 43 percent
- Attorney General: Deborah Bucknam (R) 12 percent and TJ Donovan (D) 54 percent
In each of the races above, third party and independent candidates received 3 percent or less support among likely voters polled.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will easily win Vermont if the poll results hold true: Clinton has 45 percent support from likely voters, versus 17 percent for Republican candidate Donald Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson pulls 4 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein has 3 percent support in the poll.
Four percent of respondents volunteered Sen. Bernie Sanders as their choice for president, though he is not on the ballot. One parlor game of this election season has been musing over whether any of Sanders' primary supporters would vote for Trump in the General Election. The VPR Poll shows zero percent would do so.
The VPR Poll asked an open-ended question: “If you had to pick one issue that you'd most like to see the Vermont Legislature focus on next session, what would that issue be?”
More than a quarter of responses fell under the umbrella of money issues: 14 percent said tax structure and budget, and 12 percent said jobs, economy or cost of living. Other issues that respondents named: health care at 13 percent; environment and energy at 11 percent; opiate addiction and drug problems at 10 percent.
Vermonters have a strong consensus in favor of universal background checks for all gun purchases, regardless if sold in a store, gun show, or private sale: 84 percent support the idea, 12 percent oppose it.
When it comes to siting wind power, local control wins the day with 39 percent of respondents saying landowners should have the final say, and 34 percent support community members having the final say.
More than half of respondents, 56 percent, say they would support an effort to resettle refugees in their community, while 27 percent say they would oppose the idea.
The VPR Poll asked all respondents what level of trust they have in several government and civic institutions. State and local government fared well, especially when compared with national polls on trust in Congress.
When asked, “How much do you trust the Vermont state legislature to serve the interests of Vermonters?” a combined 68 percent of respondents said “trust somewhat” or “trust completely.”
When asked, “How much do you trust your town government to serve the interests of your town?” a combined 74 percent of respondents said “trust somewhat” or “trust completely.”
Media didn’t do as well with poll respondents. A combined 42 percent said they have a “a fair amount” or “great deal” of trust and confidence in “the mass media, such as newspapers, TV and radio, to report news about the upcoming election fully, accurately and fairly.”
The VPR Poll is made possible in part with support from the VPR Journalism Fund.